MLB Players have expectations after a long and grueling offseason, most of which many cannot reach with the stretched out 162 games. I decided to grade six players seasons with letter grades, I have lots of suggestions to do more players so go message me on instagram @sportsgreatness_ to get your player reserved for the next few parts. This is a part 2, check out part 1 on my timeline!
Tyler O’Neill: A
Tyler O’Neill never got a true chance to prove himself in his first 3 seasons in the bigs, never playing more than 61 games in a season. But with his first heavy workload in 2021, he proved that he deserved a permanent spot in the Cardinals starting lineup. Hitting 34 HR and a 145 wRC+, O’Neill was one of the leagues elite hitters throughout 2021. His value wasn’t just at the plate, however, he had a 11 DRS and 3 OAA in LF during the season. His elite offense and defense boasted him to a 5.4 fWAR, providing insane value to the Cardinals lineup. The Cardinals struggled mightily throughout the season, and O’Neill can be thanked for helping to spark the Cardinals offense. On Sept. 10, 2021, the Cardinals had a record of 71-69, 2 games above .500, after losing to the Cincinnati Reds. They wouldn’t lose another game until Sept. 29, 2021. During the 16 game winning streak, Tyler O’Neill slashed .324/.365/.677, and had a 1.041 OPS. The Cards would go on to finish the season 90-72, and clinch a Wild Card berth, O’Neill was the guy for this team, and was among the leagues best outfielders in 2021.
Juan Soto: A+
This kid is absolutely, special. There is no other way to truly describe his 2021 season, then one of the greatest seasons from a player 22 or younger we have seen in recent memory. A 163 wRC+ and 6.6 fWAR are already incredibly impressive, but to do it on a Nationals team that finished 65-97 it’s even more astounding. He had basically “10 day contract players,” around him for the entirety of the season after the trade deadline, and still slashed .335/.528/.580, with a 1.107 OPS. He was the only hitter in the lineup pitchers truly worried about, the one guy you keened in on in film before the series, and still did all that damage. I feel like baseball fans don’t truly understand how valuable Soto was for the Nationals this season, he truly carried them in the back half of the season, even if they didn’t win many games. Without him, this team probably doesn’t win more than 10 games after July 30, and I don’t even think that’s an understatement.
Francisco Lindor: C
Mr. Smiles is undoubtedly one of my favorite players in all of baseball to watch, as a fielder it is absolutely amazing watching him play. A 4 DRS and 20 OAA season at short is truly impressive, as Lindor has always been able to provide a golden glove at one of the leagues hardest defensive positions. What he couldn’t provide in 2021 though, as anything that resembled an above average offensive season. Slashing .230/.322/.412, with a 103 wRC+ and .704 OPS, is just (not literally) the definition of AVERAGE. With how much money he’s making, I don’t care how ridiculous he is at shortstop, he needs to be better than a league average player. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt somewhat, because it is his first season in NY, fresh off of a COVID-19 riddled year and he has dealt with injuries. But overall I can’t give him anything above an average grade, because he just played average in 125 games in 2021.
Yuli Gurriel: B+
The Astros 1B is in his age 37 season, and may have had his best season yet in 2021. A 134 wRC+ and 3.4 fWAR slightly edge his 2019 campaign statistically, and show that he can still hit despite being close to 40. Something I really like about Gurriel is his plat discipline, sitting in the 98th percentile in K% and 97th percentile in Whiff% in 2o21. Gurriel rakes, and batting average isn’t a good stat but being the AL batting champ with a .319 BA truly shows how you’re one of the best pure hitters in baseball. A 5 DRS and 0 OAA at 1B in 2021, showing how he is not a liability at 1B, but in reality defense isn’t that necessary at that position. I think he really did have a solid performance in 2021, one that went underrated by a lot of baseball fans, which may have to do with his outstanding teammates.
Brandon Lowe: A-
The Rays have one of the best analytical systems in all of baseball, allowing for them to filter through their own system and build the a great franchise on a budget. One of the guys that exemplifies this is Brandon Lowe, who had an elite season from the plate in 2021. A 137 wRC+ and 142 OPS+ show is immense value from the plate for the Rays this season. The .523 SLG shows his pop, which was 2nd on the team behind among starters (behind Mike Zunino), but he did lead the team with 39 HR. Lowe barrels the ball up, among the 88th percentile in Barrel%, but this does come at a cost with his 27.2 K%. Lowe had a -2 DRS and -4 OAA at 2B in 2021, which isn’t good but 2B is not a position known for it’s defensive play so it’s not a big deal. Lowe truly picked up his season after the all star break though, slashing .292/.368/.591 with a .959 OPS in the second half of the season. He helped the Rays to winning the AL East crown, and ultimately was one of the most valuable pieces to their offense throughout the season.
Gleyber Torres: D+
Francisco Lindor was the definition of AVERAGE in 2021, while Gleyber Torres was the definition of “mid.” Torres slashed .259/.331/.366 in 2021, and had an astonishing 94 wRC+, a big drop off from his amazing 2019 season where he slashed .278/.337/.535 with a 125 wRC+. Or wait, read that back. Torres really wasn’t “elite,” in 2019. He may have had 38 HR, but his BA and OBP are nearly identical. Now Torres did play 17 more games in 2019, but that there isn’t that large of a difference between the two seasons in that category. With his percentiles, Torres actually had a better Chase Rate and K% in 2021, compared to 2019, paired with a better K%. The only big difference between the two seasons is his Barrel%, Avg Exit Velocity, and HardHit% all were better in 2019 than 2021. Which tells me that the power numbers really were the big difference at the plate for Torres when comparing 2019 to 2021. But, what gives Torres a D+? Well the below league average 94 wRC+, -10 DRS and -9 OAA at SS, the 1.7 fWAR, the constant disappointment he brought to Yankees fans day in and day out. He was struggling with injuries, but it was Torres year in 2021. I hope he has a bounce back year in 2022, and that he switches his primary position to 2B.